Soldiers Load Guns, Get Back on Training Field

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FORT RILEY, Kan. - The Company C, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conducted live training exercises October 7-8, six months after they returned from a 15-month deployment to Iraq.

Soldiers were required to perform movement to contact, enter and clear a room and treat and evacuate casualties. They also engaged targets with the M4, M203 and M249.

Soldiers worked in teams to properly clear a room that had while officers critiqued them from a catwalk above the training area.

"It is one of those routine tasks that we want to train instinctively," said Major Pete Lind. "We want to achieve a level of efficiency where it's not thought about, it's just executed."

Spc. Zach Lankford is a team leader for the training and he agrees repetition will help in a tough situation in Iraq. "It's muscle memory," he said. "It comes right back to you. The fear's gonna go away and you're just gonna execute."

Once the fire team training is complete and officers feel the soldiers are ready to move on, they'll go through squad training, then platoon training.

"This, for us, is kind of like blocking and tackling; it's the basics," said Maj. Lind. "If you can master these, you can literally play the game anywhere. This same task is performed whether we do it here at Fort Riley, Iraq, Afghanistan... doesn't matter. That's why we'll continue to train this to the level of proficiency required."

Although the training is going well, Maj. Lind says their battalion is only at two-thirds strenght right now. Only 75 percent of their 693 soldiers are able to participate in the training. On top of that, he says they need 811 soldiers in the battalion, and they'd like to hit that number by the end of the year.

"Right now our biggest challenge is personnel - our manning situation," said Maj. Lind. "We've overcome that simply by consolidating some of the leadership... So that we can still do training and achieve our terminal training objectives."